Imagine boarding an airplane at 6:30 am to take a ninety-minute trip across the country. It’s just about sunrise and you vaguely wonder what the catering trolley will serve for breakfast. I’d probably even wonder whether they’d offer a choice between omlette and bread crumb-dipped potato rolls and what I’d choose. As the airplane takes off and gains height, you’ve finally found a comfortable spot in your seat and have just begun to flip through the in-flight program menu when you see the air hostesses bring out their trolley.
“Aha! Better choose a good program to watch with the meal,” you think and quickly scan the menu.
Slowly but surely the trolley makes its ways down the isle and finally it’s your turn.
“Juice or soda, madam?”
Juice or soda?! Oh of course, it’s only the first round – how stupid could I be? They don’t serve the meal directly, it’s always a drink first, especially in decent airlines.
Choosing a fizzy orange drink, you settle back into your seat. Rumble…rumble… no, it wasn’t the airplane (Alhumdolillah!), it was your tummy asking for breakfast as the sun climbed up the sky.
Fifteen minutes later, the trolley comes by again and this time, you’re ready to receive your tray. The air hostess smiles down at you, extends her hand and… hands you a shiny little fluffed up packet of potato chips! What?!
“Uh, no thank you,” you smile politely, only partially hiding your surprise and also wondering how the airline got the idea of serving juice and potato chips before breakfast.
“No, no, please, have some!” she insists, wearing a dazzling smile.
“I’ll just wait for breakfast,” you almost begin to say but stop, wondering how silly it would sound… as if you were a three-year old who needed a timely meal.
“Oh, ok,” says the air hostess in a chirpy tone and moves on.
Twenty minutes pass. Tick tock… tick tock… according to the flight status indicator, you’ve just completed more than half the journey and will be at your destination in another three-quarters of an hour.
Tick tock… tick tock. That’s not your wristwatch anymore… it’s your “tummy clock”, clocking the number of hours it has been since your last meal.
Lo and behold! The trolley arrives again. Forcing yourself to smile at the air hostess (the reward for patience is Paradise!) while inwardly shaking your head at the poor service, you look up.
“Would you like juice or soda, madam?”
“No thanks!” you blurt out, partly in shock and partly knowing, in some corner of your mind, that you’d known it would happen exactly like that.
The trolley moves on. Thirty minutes to touchdown and now, you’ve given up on breakfast altogether. Suddenly, you remember the half-finished packet of chocolate chip cookies in your purse, rummage for them and quickly down them, wondering how they’d have tasted with a piping hot cup of delicious tea. Just as you are busy brushing off a wayward crumb from your dress…
The trolley’s back again! But you’re trained now. You shake your head, mumble a “no, thanks!” and busy yourself deleting off all the useless messages in your mobile inbox.
Somebody in the row ahead of you impatiently asks for a customer comment card. Then there’s another one asking for the same. You smile. Some people air their views directly to the air hostesses who point out they are only employees, following the company policy. Someone asks for the airfare to be reduced if the service is to remain poor. Suddenly, breakfast at dawn is the center-point of the criticism.
“Ha! So I’m not insane for asking for breakfast!” you smile with satisfaction, your ego partly satiated.
Rumble… of course, your tummy’s still hungry. Maybe the airport pastry shop still serves those delicious eclairs… what flavor topping should one choose? Chocolate or strawberry?
The story above is actually based on a very real, extremely similar episode, recently witnessed by a reader on this blog, Sammy, on a domestic flight in Pakistan, aboard one of the newer and supposedly better airlines. This just goes to show, new isn’t necessarily the best!
On and the chips served were Lays potato chips… to every passenger, young and old. Fascinatingly low, isn’t it?